Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Winchester residents vote down sewage plant upgrades

By Meghan Foley Sentinel Staff

WINCHESTER — Local officials will have to find another way to move forward with a $1.48 million project to complete upgrades to the town’s sewage treatment plant.
Although a majority voted in favor, voters didn’t give the project’s third and final phase, which also included developing a plan to inspect the sewer collection system, the 60 percent majority it needed to pass. The vote at the polls Tuesday was 284-270.
Upgrades to the roughly 30-year-old plant started in 2010, with the second phase expected to begin in late summer, town officials have said.
The town took over managing the facility in 2008, after its contract with United Water of Auburn expired. At the time, the plant was having numerous mechanical breakdowns.
The first phase of the project included basic repairs to the facility. The second phase was approved at town meeting in March 2009, and required an additional $500,000 after town officials learned the original $3.4 million bond approved at town meeting the year before wasn’t enough.
While the warrant article for the third phase of the project received support from the majority of voters attending the town’s deliberative session on Feb. 2, residents had many questions, including whether the $1.48 million was enough to fund all the work.
Selectmen and the budget committee were also divided over the article, with the selectmen unanimously recommending it, and the budget committee not recommending it by a 6-2 vote.
An article generating controversy at the deliberative session involving the Conant and Thayer public libraries passed at the polls.
Voters decided, 356-197, to establish a committee of seven residents to study the effects of consolidating the libraries. The committee, which will be appointed by the selectmen, will also include a representative from each library.
The article followed years of discussion about whether the town could afford two libraries. Thayer Library trustees came under fire from the selectmen in December for the way in which they amended the library’s bylaws earlier in 2011. Selectmen were especially concerned with one that shifted the responsibilities of caring for the library away from the library director and trustees.
Also at the polls, residents got behind an article establishing an ordinance to make it illegal for animals to run at-large on properties that don’t belong to their owners, by a vote of 358-194.
The selectmen unanimously backed the ordinance, which applies to all domestic animals.
According to the ordinance, residents whose domestic or wild animals escape their care could be fined $50 each time the animals get loose. The owners would also be responsible for expenses for caring for the animals.
The town already has a similar law in place for dogs.
An article to reduce the number of budget committee members at-large from seven to five, plus a representative each from the selectmen and school board, passed, 322-214. A similar proposal to reduce the number to seven, plus a representative each from the selectmen and school board, passed last year.
Residents approved the town’s operating budget of $3,417,661 by a vote of 322-245. The budget is an increase of 11 percent, or $346,074, from the current budget of $3,071,587.
They also backed the sewer department’s budget of $318,361 by a vote of 428-144, and the water department’s budget of $240,042 by a vote of 424-148.
A total of 607 people, or 24 percent of the town’s 2,493 registered voters, cast ballots.
In a five-way race for two, three-year seats on the board of selectmen, incumbent Theresa G. Sepe won re-election with 384 votes, followed by Herbert “Chan” Stephens, with 305 votes. Falling short were Brian Moser, 153 votes, Jennifer M. Bellan, 128 votes, and John Pasquarelli, 72 votes.
In the three-way race for two, three-year seats on the planning board, Michael Doherty was the top vote-getter with 345 votes, followed by Gustave “Gus” Ruth, with 271. Out of the running was Arthur Charland, with 257 votes.
Elected without opposition: James Tetreault, town clerk/tax collector, three years; Frank J. Amarosa 3rd, Thayer Public Library trustee, one year; Dianne Skawski-Pride and Joan Gratton, Thayer Public Library trustees, three years; Barbara Kelley, Marilyn Baker and Bonnie Leveille, Conant Public Library trustees, three years; Harvey Sieran, Kathleen Hebert and Margaret Curtis, budget committee, three years; Bonnie Leveille, supervisor of the checklist, one year; Theodore Whippie, trustee of trust funds, three years; Thomas MacQuarrie, Musterfield Cemetery Committee, three years.


Anonymous said...

So all you idiots that keep talking about doom and gloom can lick your wounds and have a nice summer. Better luck next year when you will all geared up for another election and you will get your behinds handed to you again. Why don't you just shut up and join the ranks of Mike, Bob and that wanna be lawyer and realize it aint worth the fight.

Brain Dead Town said...

5:55PM, guess you are right. the old saying," you cant fight city hall" certainly is true in Winchester. Maybe when the idiots that get there tax bill in December, you can explain what happened.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous!
Quite simply, people complain because there is something important to complain about. Taxpayers like myself want to be heard because we know we are the ones that are going to have to pay in the end, regardless of election outcome. Taxes will go up again. This we know. Now, more people won't be able to afford and will quit paying and leave town which means more responsibility for those that actually pay bills. Like me. I'll keep fighting and asking questions. Thanks.

Kevin on Swan Street

Anonymous said...

As always I was shocked with lack of voter turn out! 24% could the other 76% be felons or to drunk to drive to the town hall that day?
no surprises with the election of board members, looks like we finally will have a decent planning board and hopefully our town can grow some new business's
Warrant articles really surprised me
I find it odd that people feel they have enough money to pass every single one except the sewer upgrades.
Just for a example, you all should have voted NO to the cruiser, PD would have bought it anyways but would have scrounged the money from their budget instead of using extra tax payer money.
These are the things we need to teach the voters about for next year. Almost every time in the past when we voted no to certain warrant articles that department found a way to make the purchase anyways, It points out the fact about all the hidden fluff in every budget.
Please remember only 24% of registered voters have any right to bitch and moan for the next year, as far as the other 76% KEEP YOUR MOUTHS SHUT!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Voters have it backwards.g turn out big for presidential elections which have little effect on our day to day lives and stay at home for town and school voting which has a MAJOR effect on our day to day lives like town services, taxes, school, police. Turn out to vote for what effects us in our town.

Anonymous said...

24% didn't take us down the povety road. Look at how few extra votes could have turned the tide on many articles. It's more like 15% or less that have sold the rest of us down the river. That number of people can be accountd for by people on the payroll or otherwise getting money from the town and one family member for each.

Anyone who didn't vote has no right to complain about not being able to sell their property, or losing their house to the bank because they can't pay their taxes.

Perhaps people really didn't learn enough in Winchester schools to know that increased spending equals increased taxes. Or maybe they too think "the rich" should pay more to give them everything they want.